GREENSBORO, N.C. — The organizers of the Downtown University Campus selected a site on the southeast corner of South Elm and Lee streets for construction Tuesday.
In 2007, the City Conucil approved a plan to clean up the area after discovering it had environmental contamination. Now $7 million and nearly seven years later, they are ready to start building on it.
Construction here will expand downtown Greensboro, starting with a shared university campus. It will serve as a facility for a nursing program for North Carolina A&T, UNC-Greensboro, Guilford Technical Community College and Cone Health.
Mayor Robbie Perkins said he's excited for construction to begin on the now-safe site.
Greensboro Mayor-elect Nancy Vaughan agreed it would be a worthy continued investment for the city.
Nearby store owners are excited too, too.
Carol Poling at Thrill of the Hunt told FOX8, "We have been waiting and we are so excited!" She added, "Whether it's retail or nursing or a hotel, I think activity and growth and energy is really good for the city and needed right now."
She likes the idea of her store's location becoming the middle of downtown instead of the end of downtown.
Ed Kitchen, former Greensboro city manager and co-chairman of Opportunity Greensboro, said the projected costs of the Downtown University Campus are around $40 million. Cone and the colleges will cover operating costs through lease arrangements.
Kitchen added, “We’re going to raise money locally, a few foundations and corporate giving to try to get those numbers down. We’ll probably approach the state for certain aspects of the project. We’re looking at some national grants that could help out with this because it’s a pretty unique collaborative project. And we’ll also talk to the City of Greensboro.”
Organizers have said Bennett College, Greensboro College, Guilford College and the Elon University School of Law will have more active roles later on.
Bob Chapman, with South Elm Redevelopment Group, said he is hopeful that the project will be completed in the next four to five years. It is currently on a four-year plan.
"This is great economic development for this area -- in an area that sorely needs it," Vaughan said.